Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
30 September 1980
UNESCO General Conference
Twenty-first Session, Belgrade 1980
30 September 1980
Item 59 of the agenda
Jerusalem And The Implementation Of 20 C/Resolution 4/7.6/13
The Director-General submits to the General Conference a
report on the application of resolution 4/7.6/13
adopted by the General Conference at its twentieth session,
on communications he has received concerning Jerusalem
and on the action taken as a result of those communications
and of decisions 4.5.7 and 5.5.1 adopted by the Executive
Board at its 107th session (May 1979) and at its 109th
session (April©June 1980), respectively.
I - Resolutions adopted by the General Conference at its
twentieth session and decisions taken by the Executive
Board at its l07th and l09th sessions ................ 3
II - Communications received by the Director-General
concerning Jerusalem ................................. 3
III - Missions to Jerusalem by the Director-General's
personal representative .............................. l7
IV - Developments since l967 with regard to the
safeguarding of monuments in Jerusalem ............... 24
III. MISSIONS TO JERUSALEM BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL'S
The Director-General, in order to fulfil his role in carrying out the wishes expressed by the General Conference, instructed Professor Raymond Lemaire, resident of ICOMOS and professor at the University of Louvain, to visit Jerusalem. Professor Lemaire did so on two occasions from 1 to 4 April l979 and from 5 to 11 March l980. These missions were carried out with the agreement of the Government of Israel in pursuance of 20 C/Resolution 4/7.6/13.
The Director-General put before the Executive Board the following report by Professor Lemaire on the mission he had carried out from 1 to 4 April l979:
"The mission to Jerusalem was preceded by two journeys to
Paris for the purpose of meeting the Director-General and various senior officials of Unesco concerned by the question.
On the Israeli side:
Mr. Eytan Ron, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Sopher, Director of the Division of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Guiladi, Deputy Director of the same Division
Mrs. Yael Vered, Director of the Division of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. A. Byran, former Director-General of Antiquities
Mr. A. Extan, Director of Antiquities
Mr. X. Mintzker, Architect in the Department of Antiquities
On the Arab side:
Mr. Tahbboub, Director-General of Wakf in Sharif
Mr. Marwan Abou Chalaf, Director of the Al-Aqsa Museum
Purpose of the mission
: to examine the excavation sites and the state of general conservation of the site and city of Jerusalem; to obtain information concerning certain operations at the Moors' Gate of the Haram-El- Sharif; and to examine the state of conservation of the Abou Medienne
All work has stopped on the excavation sites, both in the city and on the Hill of Ophel (City of David). No further
alterations seem to have been made there since my last visit in September l978. According to information obtained from
Mr. Extan, Director of Antiquities, who is responsible for
considering applications for the starting of new excavations, no further applications have been made to date, and no notice has been given of any. It is clear, however, that if an application were made in due form, affording the requisite scientific guarantees, it would not be turned down, in conformity with the policy adopted by the government in this matter.
The state of general conservation of the site and City of Jerusalem
There is nothing important to report. So far as the site is concerned, the high-rise blocks already being built at the time of my previous visits in l977 and l978 are now being completed. There are no signs of any work having begun on any further high rise building. It will be remembered that those alreadymentioned are all located in the Israeli sector, that is to say, within the l967 frontiers.
The improvements to the zone surrounding the south and west ramparts are virtually complete. The debris has been cleared and archaeological remains have been uncovered. A considerable number of olive and palm trees have been planted. The improvements to the zone in front of the Damascus Gate, begun a few weeks ago, look as if they will form the final stage in the operation.
Within the city, the drains and water-pipes are slowly
continuing to be modernized in the Arab Quarter.
The operations at the Moors' Gate of the Haram-El-Sharif
These operations are the subject of a complaint dated 10
January l979 addressed to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations by the Moroccan Government. The complaint relates to the I examined the site, with which I have been very familiar for close on nine years, passing by there on each of my visits. I saw no signs of any new demolition either at the Gate or in its vicinity. I also questioned in this connection Mr. Tahbboub, Director-General of the Wakf, and the architect Issam Awwad, architect of the same organization. They told me that they knew nothing of any new demolition work in the area.
Some confusion may have arisen from certain work undertaken by the Israelis at that Gate, which is the only one of the Haram to which they hold the key and over which they keep a watch. The panels of the Gate have in fact been repainted in their original green colour and the threshold, which had become smooth and slippery from the tens of thousands of feet that have trodden over it, has been roughened.
In addition, the directors of the Al-Aqsa Museum and the
Israeli authorities are in disagreement concerning the wall on
the southern side of the Gate in question. The Israelis are
refusing permission for this wall to be made higher so that a
patio can be laid out as a place to exhibit carved stonework from the Haram. The refusal is based on security considerations since the adjacent terrace constitutes an observation post forming part of the security system set up around the Wailing Wall.
The Abou Medienne Zawiya
is the property of the Moroccan Wakf. Previous complaints referred to the dangers of expropriation and demolition. The Mayor of Jerusalem had denied any such dangers. I re-examined all the buildings and found nothing changed. I had the impression during my conversations with Israeli officials that strong pressure might be brought to bear on the Wakf authorities for them to sell the property to the city, which would like to make a public stairway into one of the courtyards to provide a new link between the piazza, which has been laid out in front of the Wailing Wall, and the Jewish Quarter of the old city, restoration of which is nearing completion. This stairway would be built without affecting the historic buildings of the
Questioned on this matter, Mr. Tahbboub told me that the
Wakf would never give up the property in question, as it had
neither the duty nor the right to do so, the foundation having
been created for religious purposes. A serious conflict could
therefore arise in this connection in the near future. I drew
the attention of the Israeli authorities to the possible
consequences of the expropriation of this property, one of the
last that the Maghreb Wakf, which has been the principal victim of the expropriations in the sector affected by Professor Mazar's excavations, possesses in Jerusalem".
Professor Lemaire met the following officials: Professor Z. Werblowski, Chairman of the Israeli National Commission for Unesco, Mr. Elizur, Deputy Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. R. Raeli, Assistant Director of the department of International Organizations in the same Ministry, Mr. Eitan, Director of Antiquities of Israel, Professor Mazar, Avignan, Biran and Shilo of the Hebrew University, Mr. P. Bugod, architect in charge of a number of projects in Jerusalem, Mr. T. Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem, and several members of his staff, including Mr. Y. Yaacovy, Director-General of East Jerusalem Development Ltd. In the absence of Mr. Tahbboub, Director of Wakf, Professor Lemaire held discussions with Mr. Husseini, the architect of the Wakf, and Mr. I. Awwad, engineer of the Al Aqsa Restoration Committee. Professor Lemaire was unable to meet the Director of the Al Aqsa Museum, who was absent.
20. The points noted and the opinions reached by Professor
Lemaire as a result of this mission are as follows:
The archaeological excavations in the various sectors
The excavations near the Haram-al-Sharif
(i) The excavations near the Haram-al-Sharif have been at a complete standstill for more than three years. I saw no particular activity there, nor any traces of recent digging. There have been isolated instances of consolidation and maintenance work with a view to safeguarding fragile features. However, some conservation and consolidation will be necessary in the walls, mosaics and other remains which have been uncovered are to be definitely protected. This is particularly so in view of the fact that the recent winter was especially harsh.
(ii) The restoration work commenced four years ago, particularly on the steps of the Double Gate, has not been completed. The columns which were mistakenly set up in the vicinity, in a 'fanciful' conception of how the site should look, are still in place.
Excavations in the 'Jewish Quarter
(iii) There are no excavations in progress and, according to Professor Avigan, the archaeologist responsible for the sector, none are planned. Consolidation work is under way in order to safeguard the remains of the 'Nea' and of the neighbouring
Byzantine and medieval ruins discovered five years ago. At a number of points, important archaeological remains discovered during earlier excavations have been preserved under new buildings. It is intended to prepare and to open them for display.
Excavations in the 'city of David
(iv) Excavations have been carried out at this site, which contains the oldest traces of the city, for the past two years. They are being undertaken in conjunction with the removal of the unstable soil covering the eastern slope of the promontory. The
city authorities give two reasons to justify the extreme urgency of the work in progress: first, the instability of the soil, which, in recent years, has caused the collapse of a number of houses and the deaths of several children; secondly, the digging of a trench for the new sewer running from the Old City.
(v) The instability of the ground is largely due to the fact that the archaeologists who succeeded one another on the site (R. Weill (l9l3-l9l4), MacCalister (l922-l923) and Kathleen Kennyon (l96l-l967) threw up steep heaps of spoil from the Herodian and Byzantine periods. The soil is genuinely unstable. I was able to observe, in this late winter period and after heavy
rain, that there were long fissures parallel to the slope in areas at the top of the hill that have not been affected by any recent excavations; this shows that large-scale slippage is in progress. The central area of the promontory is traversed by a small valley several metres deep created by the outlet of the Ottoman sewer of the historic city. This valley is bordered by
almost vertical cliffs which intersect the old glacis, exposing layers of pottery fragments and other historical material. It is in these layers and in the piles of earth which the archaeologists built up on the hill that children seek, particularly following the rain storms which lay them bare, the pottery and coins which they sell to tourists. Their lives are endangered by the sudden earthfalls, which are sometimes caused
by their own scrabbling.
(vi) Two years ago, the municipal authorities decided that, in order to prevent the recurrence of accidents of this sort, they would remove the unstable soil. In view of the wealth of archaeological remains contained in the subsoil, which include the vestiges of successive fortifications dating back as far as the Iron Age, this operation cannot be undertaken without archaeological supervision or, at least in certain sectors, without digging. As this work progresses, the remains uncovered in the previously excavated sites - particularly the sites worked by K. Kennyon, which are of uncertain stability and in a deplorable condition - are being consolidated and cleaned. The local inhabitants use the side of the hill as a rubbish dump, and a number of archaeological sides are not disappearing under mounds of waste.
(vii) Archaeological investigation of the zone affected by the new sewer was completed in l979. Cleaning of the archaeological sites opened up by Weill, MacCallister and Kennyon is almost finished. The removal of soil has begun, but the major Professor Y. Shilo of the Hebrew University.
Dig envisaged for l980
(viii) According to Mr. A. Eyten, Director of Antiquities, his office, which is responsible for issuing the mandatory permits, has not so far received any request for permission to undertake excavations in Jerusalem. There is, however, one dig which may be considered probable for l980, namely the continuation of the work in the 'City of David' which has been mentioned above.
Operations in the Old City
The restoration of the 'Jewish quarter'
(ix) This work is nearing completion. Most of the houses have been rebuilt or restored. Paving of the streets and the layout of squares is in progress. 'Archaeological parks' have been created in order to show off the historical remains, which include those of Crusader churches discovered during the restoration work and synagogues destroyed during the l947-l948 war. The fabric of the new souk above the Cardo of Aelia Capitolina, in which Roman and Byzantine remains are displayed, is virtually complete.
(x) This quarter of the city, which had been occupied for centuries by a mixed but mainly Jewish population, was largely destroyed during the l947-l948 war. It is now occupied exclusively by religious organizations and individual Jews. The last Arab inhabitant left the district a short while ago, under
pressure from the Israeli authorities.
The renovation of the sewers and the water, electricity, telephone and television-signal distribution systems in the Old City
(xi) This work continues. According to Mr. T. Kollek, the Mayor of the city, several million dollars are spent on it each year. The main sewer and numerous connections in the vicinity of the street which crosses the city from the Damascus Gate to the Dun Gate have been completed. All the new pipes and cables run in
the same trench. The urgency and necessity of this work are indisputable. In a trench that was open during my mission, I was able to see yet again the very poor state of the old sewers, which form part of a system that was built up over the centuries in bits and pieces and is largely blocked. The city engineers say that the impossibility of maintaining these old drains leads
to blockages which in turn cause the pipes to burst under the pressure of the water and are the source of frequent accidents, such as the collapse of neighbouring houses. There is no doubt whatever that the creation of the new network is bringing about a television aerials is improving its visual aspect.
(xii) Unfortunately, the work - of which the difficulty in the narrow and winding streets of an ancient city should not be underestimated - has affected the stability of a number of buildings at the base of which a trench sometimes several metres deep has been dug. The study of the working plans and a site visit with the supervising engineers enabled me to see that the preparatory work has been undertaken in accordance with professional standards and with allowance for the uncertain stability of numerous buildings. With regard to the latter, foundations have been strengthened, buttresses have been built, and facades have been shored up.
(xiii) Despite these precautions, two buildings have collapsed. Both were in the vernacular style of Jerusalem: walls of small squared stones, and two storeys, both vaulted. The reasons advanced for the collapse differ according to whether the source
of the information is Arab or Israeli.
(xiv) The first of the buildings in question was a house situated near the Bab El-Hadid which belonged to the Wakf and was inhabited by the Al-Muakkat family. It collapsed on 8 December l979.
(xv) The architect of the Wakf, Mr. Husseini, warned the municipal authorities about the dangerous state of the building on several occasions, claiming that it was due to the digging of a trench along the front wall for the installation of the new sewer. According to him, no effort was made at consolidation.
(xvi) The Director-General of East Jerusalem Development Ltd., Mr. Yaacovy, who is an engineer, claims that at the point in question, the new sewer was not laid in a trench dug in fresh ground, but in the channel made for the pre-existing sewer. The
plans I was shown indicate the presence of this channel.
According to Mr. Yaacovy, the collapse of the house was due to the presence of two old water tanks which had been leaking for a long time, with the result that the water had undermined the foundations. Consolidation of the house was said to have been considered, but had been found to be impossible without incurring enormous expense, for it would have been necessary to underpin
the whole of the foundations. In addition, the state of the walls and of the vaulting made the value of such work uncertain.
(xvii) As things stand, it is impossible to determine which of these versions is correct. There are, however, three points which may be made:
First: Cracks, most of which were not very large, appeared in several houses close to the street after the sewer was laid. There can be no question that they were caused by slight movement characteristics of the soil following the laying of the sewer, or a combination of these two things.
Second: With regard to the house itself, the masonry which still survives shows that the mortar used in construction is of very poor quality and crumbles between one's fingers.
Third: It is many months since the sewer was laid, but the street has still not been repaved (this is true of most of the streets in the lower city that have been affected by the installation of the sewer network), and a good deal of the rain, which has been heavy this winter and which runs off with difficulty, penetrates into the ground. It is possible that this phenomenon has helped to alter the mechanical properties of the
subsoil and that it is, therefore, not unconnected with the modification of the stability of the houses, many of which have shallow foundations.
(xviii) The Wakf has instituted proceedings against the city before the Israeli High Court. The collapse of the house has also been the subject of a complaint by Jordan to the Security Council. The representative of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign
Affairs has expressed his government's point of view on the matter in a Note dated 28 January l980 (A/35/77-S/13766).
(xix) The second building to have been destroyed was the house of the Shehabi family, which belonged to the Wakf and was situated at No. 53 Aqabat-el-Saraya. It was demolished several months ago because it was threatening to collapse. However, there had previously been a solid system of buttresses made of metal girders, similar to those which the municipal authorities had
installed in other parts of the city. These girders are still to be seen lying on the ruins of the house.
(xx) Once again, the accounts of what happened differ:
In the eyes of some, the municipal authorities ordered the house to be demolished without any valid reason.
In the opinion of others, the house, which had allegedly been damaged by an explosion during a terrorist attack, could not have been saved without enormous expense. They allege that the original intention had been to conserve the house and that it had
been buttressed for that purpose, but that a closer examination had led to a decision not to proceed with the work.
The historic site of Jerusalem
(xxi) With regard to significant changes in the historic site of Jerusalem, I noted the construction in the Israeli zone of the city of two new towers of medium height (some 15 storeys); the first is the Hotel Commodore building, while the second is to enlarged, and there is an extensive building site west of the
(xxiii) Finally, it is said that the project for a Hyatt Hotel on the slopes of Mount Scopus, between the Hebrew University and the French Hill district, which was first announced some years ago, is to be revived. The scheme was said to have been abandoned, but it has cropped up again in respect of the same site but with
new plans. Apparently, the intention is now to put up not a tower but buildings which would follow the slope of the hill, accentuating it in order to cut off the view from the Old City of the French Hill housing complex, which has been much criticized. I have not seen the project. The plans for it have been drawn up
by a world-renowned British architect."
IV. DEVELOPMENTS SINCE 1967 WITH REGARD TO THE SAFEGUARDING OF
MONUMENTS IN JERUSALEM
21. In pursuance of decision 4.5.7 adopted by the Executive
Board at its 107th session, the Director-General instructed
Professor Lemaire to prepare a report on the safeguarding of the
cultural heritage in Jerusalem since 1967. That report, covering
developments in the situation from 1967 to the time of the
mission carried out by Professor Lemaire from 5 to 10 March 1980,
is reproduced below:
(i) On the initiative of the Hebrew University and the
Antiquities Department of Israel, an extensive programme of
exploration in the subsoil of the newly occupied parts of
Jerusalem was begun in 1968. Since the nature and scale of these excavations varies, it is wise to divide them into two
Excavations that have been systematically and
(ii) This part covers digs the planning of which holds no risk of destruction of historical remains as a result of
development, construction or other work.
(iii) These are chiefly the
digs undertaken under the
direction of Professor B. Mazar to the south and south-east of
the Haram-al-Sharif precinct.
By dint of systematic exploration of an area covering more than two hectares, Professor Mazar succeeded in unearthing a collection of highly important remains dating from the time of the Kings to that of the Omayyids. The greater part of these excavations were carried out in open ground, but extending them entailed the demolition - over an area of a little more than one hectare - of a part of the Maghreb Quarter, comprising houses of Sa'ud near the gate leading from that quarter to the Haram-al-Sharif esplanade. These excavations were carried out on Arabªowned land, without the owners' prior approval, or on land expropriated for the purpose.
(iv) The outcry provoked by this destruction, the complaints made on the subject by the Jordanian Government and the various decisions of the Executive Board and resolutions of the General Conference of Unesco led the Director-General to send to the scene Professor de Angelis d'Ossat in 1969 and Professor R.M. Lemaire from 1971 onwards. The successive resolutions adopted by the General Conference and the decisions taken by the Executive Board since 1969 are concerned chiefly with these excavations, which were discontinued at the beginning of 1977.
(v) In addition a systematic excavation of the
interior of the
was carried out under the direction of R. Amiran and A. Eitan in 1968-1969, and in 1971-1972, by agreement with the Armenian religious authorities who owned the land, digs were carried out under the responsibility of B. Bahat and Mr. M. Broshi in the gardens of the Armenian Quarter and in those of the Convent of the Saviour, which stands on the site opposite the house of Caiaphas.
(vi) Neither the digs carried out in the citadel nor those made in the Armenian Quarter gave rise to any protest. Since the sites were enclosed and private, the existence of the digs was revealed only through the publication of a general report on archaeological research in Jerusalem which appeared in 1975. The Director-General's representative in Jerusalem was not notified of their existence except in the case of the citadel dig, which had been completed more than two years before he was appointed.
Excavation of sites threatened by development or
(vii) Excavations have been carried out in Jerusalem in
connection with major development and construction schemes.
(viii) The biggest of these excavations are those carried out in the Jewish Quarter and directed by Professor N. Avigad. Since the Middle Ages, the city enclosed within the ramparts has been divided into four traditional quarters: Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish. The Jewish Quarter is situated in the south-west of the city and suffered severe war damage in 1947-1948. In 1967 the Israeli Government decided to restore it and to rebuild the houses synagogues and schools there for the benefit of exclusively Jewish institutions and inhabitants. At the same time the quarter was equipped with new infrastructures.
(ix) All large-scale projects which entailed the renewal of foundations or earthworks were preceded by detailed excavations.
seventh century B.C. and remains of some large Herodian houses
burnt down by Titus in 70 A.D.; of the 'Cardo' of'Aelia
Capitolina', the city rebuilt by Hadrian in the second century; of the 'Nea', the famous basilica erected by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century; of an Omayyid palace; of a Crusader convent; etc.
(x) No significant destruction, except of the crumbling ruins of war-damaged vernacular dwellings, has been reported in connection with these excavations in the Jewish Quarter, which were discontinued at the end of 1977.
(xi) In addition, archaeological sample surveys made in conjunction with the renewal of the sewers and water mains in several streets of the Christian and Muslim Quarters produced some isolated finds.
(xii) In 1968, on the initiative of the Jewish mayor of
Jerusalem, the Israeli Government decided to develop
periphery of the ramparts
erected by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent between 1538 and 1540. It was decided to create a national park comprising the valleys of Kidron, the slopes of the Mount of Olives and the Valley of Gehenna, and over 200 hectares were purchased or expropriated for that purpose, giving rise to several complaints to the United Nations and Unesco by the Jordanian Government. Almost all the land adjoining the rampart to the south, west and north has been developed. The rubble and debris that had accumulated at the foot of the walls over the centuries have been cleared. The excavations have uncovered the remains of earlier walls and, to the south, of Byzantine and earlier residential quarters. Vegetation has been planted and footpaths laid out. The excavations were directed by D. Bahat
and M. Broshi.
(xiii) The work was completed in 1978 except at the Damascus Gate, where the site is being worked on in order to reveal the remains of the Herodian Gate and the stonework built over it in the sixteenth century.
Excavations on the Ophel
(xiv) Samples have been taken in this sector south of the ramparts, where the first city of Jerusalem was situated. The spoil taken from the excavations and piled up on the hillside had become unstable and caused fatal accidents in 1976, so the municipality decided to have it removed. At the same time it was decided to clean up and strengthen the walls revealed by the earlier excavations. The land in question belongs to the Jewish municipality of Jerusalem, having been donated to it by the Rothschild family, which had purchased it before 1914, in order to facilitate digging operations. Larger scale as having been drawn up on that occasion. However, only earth-clearing work and limited sample digs have been carried out, and these ceased in October 1979.
(xvi) Since 1967 vaulted underground chambers of Herodian, Byzantine, Omayyid and Crusade origin, which had largely been filled in over the centuries or converted into cisterns or even septic tanks, have been cleared, and those alongside the Haram-al-Sharif wall, i.e. the precincts of the Temple built by Herod,have been fitted out for Jewish religious services as an extension of the esplanade which is used for religious purposesand which runs in front of the western wall known as the 'Wailing Wall'.
(xvii) A new sewer has been installed to collect all the sewage formerly carried by a network which had taken shape over the centuries and which was a source of major sanitary problems. The clearing of these chambers, whose vaults have withstood for centuries the weight of the buildings erected above them, has not damaged the monuments - chiefly of the Mameluke era and vernacular houses built over the vaults.
(xviii) It is a different matter with certain structures standing above a tunnel, nearly 200 metres long which was dug under the existing buildings all along the northernmost part of the wall for the purpose of clearing the base of the wall throughout its length. Although the tunnel is shored up, and although the shoring has been strengthened as a result of the visits paid by the Director-General's representative, there has been some subsidence, partly as a result of rainwater infiltration that has made the ground unstable.
(xix) Certain buildings - more particularly
- have suffered damage that has endangered their stability. This damage, which has since been roughly patched up or shored up, has given rise to several complaints to the Director-General by the Jordanian Government.
(xx) There was no need to dig this tunnel and, moreover, it does not meet the scientific criteria for a properly planned archaeological excavation.
Changes in the city and site of Jerusalem
(xxi) The only major demolition in the Old City is that of the Maghreb Quarter situated to the west of Haram-al-Sharif, which began immediately after the capture of the Old City by the Israeli forces in June 1967. The aim at that time was to clear the western wall of Haram-al-Sharif, which is also called the 'Wailing Wall' and which constitutes the most precious relic of cramped courtyard. The Israeli Government wished to feature it more prominently and give it a setting in keeping with the veneration in which it is held by Jewish believers. Old photographs show that the demolished quarter was less densely built up than the neighbouring quarters. It was made up of a fabric of vernacular architecture similar to that of the adjacent streets which still exist. Its main thoroughfare gave access to the Moors' Gate of the Haram-al-Sharif and beside that thoroughfare rose the two Mameluke buildings which are mentioned in subparagraph (iii), and which were destroyed in 1969 when demolition was in progress in the quarter to clear the ground for digging. The total area of the quarter demolished was approximately 11,500 square metres.
(xxii) Between 1971 and 1978 a few houses bordering the esplanade that runs in front of the western wall of the Haram-al-Sharif were knocked down, either to improve access to the wall or to make way for a new main sewer.
(xxiii) The most difficult problem of development in the Old City concerns the esplanade in front of the western wall of the Haram-al-Sharif. The demolition of the houses there has left an unduly big gap, and several projects have been drawn up to reduce it to a more suitable scale and to give it a less chaotic appearance and an atmosphere that will enhance the great Jewish significance of the site. None of these projects has been started, but they explain the municipality's policy of acquiring, through purchase or expropriation, the Arab properties surrounding the esplanade, particularly in the narrow strip that separates it from the Jewish Quarter. This policy has caused tension, as in the case of the
, a Moroccan Wakf property that the City is trying to acquire. The pressure put upon the owners has given rise to complaints to the Director-General by the Jordanian and Moroccan Governments.
(xxiv) The preservation of the traditional site of Jerusalem is one of the subjects of the concern expressed by the General Conference and the Executive Board of Unesco in recent years. It is true that the site has been considerably altered since 1967. Many buildings have been erected there to house,
, government departments, tens of thousands of dwellings, hotels and factories. Although the vast majority of the new buildings are situated west of the line that separated the Arab and Jewish Sectors of the city in 1967, certain major developments such as the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol housing estates, Jerusalem International Airport and certain industrial zones built or developed since 1967 are in the occupied area.
(xxv) The town-planning pressures imposed by population growth, a changing lifestyle and the development of tourist traffic have been intensified during the past 10 years, and the building of a series of tower blocks and high-density districts are spoiling the skyline and the proportions of the city scape. The majority of these structures,however, are situated west of the line separating the two sectors.
22. The Director-General wished to bring to the notice of the
General Conference all the information available to him as at 8
July 1980. He is deeply aware of the outstanding importance of
the cultural heritage of Jerusalem and will continue to do
everything in his power to preserve this universal heritage, in
particular by maintaining the presence of Unesco in Jerusalem.
Annex I - Resolution 21 C/4/14 (l980)
Annex II - Decision 4.5.7 adopted by the Executive Board at its
107th Session ( May 1979 )
Annex III - Decision 5.5.1 adopted by the Executive Board at its
109th Session ( May 1980 )